Thom

One of the hardest parts of growing older is that you lose those you love along the way.  It's inevitable.  It's painful.  It's not fair.  But it is what it is.  I have learned that each time someone leaves us we grieve differently.  At least I do.  Losing my Mom and my Dad was much different than losing my wife.  Much different, but exquisitely painful none the less.  Sometimes when we lose some one close to us, we never really grieve for them because we can only deny the pain since our hearts just can't take it.  So we stuff our feelings in the pit of our gut and move on.......
Let me tell you about Thom.  Thom is my brother....ooops...Thom WAS my brother.  And he is dead.  Gone.  And much too early in his life.  And mine.  And I really have not grieved for him.  Until now.
Thomas Dale White, was born the second of three sons to our Mom & Dad on May 29, 1947.  I am the youngest of the three.  We three boys were born two years apart, and we were blessed with a family structure quite like the "Leave it to Beaver" & "Ozzie & Harriet" sort of families.  Oh, ours was not an ideal, perfect family; we had our moments where we argued, fought, mis-behaved, got spanked, made mistakes, disappointed one another and challenged the patience of each other.  But there was never any doubt that there was love in the house and we grew up in a secure, nurturing environment.  We were lucky.  And blessed.
Like many younger brothers, I worshipped Tommy, and I wanted to be just like him.  And I tried.  And I failed.  Tom always had a self confidence that I lacked.  He was always popular among his peers.  And the girls.  In high school, he was an athlete.  He was the starting running back on the varsity football team, and he was an outstanding pole vaulter, setting many school records.  He even placed in the California State Track Meet in his senior year.  He was my hero.  He was my big brother.
When I entered high school, a pimply faced adolescent, my brother protected me and paved my way for acceptance in our school.  I was too small for football, but I joined the track team and, you guessed it, became a pole vaulter, just like him.  I will never forget sitting at the dinner table with my family, when Thom and my Dad were talking about his goal to clear the bar at 14 feet.  Back in 1965, the world record for the event was right at 17 feet, and very few high school vaulters could clear 14 feet.  Very few.  My father was always into helping us set goals, and that night, he made a bet with Thom that he couldn't clear 14 feet while still in high school.  And it had to be in a track meet, and not just in practice.  He was a junior at the time and his best was 13 feet.  Every INCH in pole vaulting is a barrier and a great achievement when you can "raise the bar" another inch.  My Father, knowing that Thom could never jump that high, bet him a brand new Austin Healey Sprite automobile if he succeded.  Secure in the belief that he had made a safe bet, we moved on to other dinner time conversations.
Tommy got to work, and to make a long story short, he cleared 14' 1" in a meet against another school in our district.  Our Father, a man of his word, not only praised him, but they went out that very night and came home with a brand new red 1965 Austin Healy Sprite.  Now, my folks were not wealthy, we were comfortable.  Buying that car was not an easy thing for my Dad to do.  But it was a promise and a commitment, and he lived up to that.  And Thom was the proud, new owner of the coolest car on campus.
My Dad had to be fair and make the same bet with me, and he even used to spend much time coaching me in my effort to be like my big brother and get my car.  While I know now that he was probably hoping that he would not have to make good on such a bet, my Dad worked hard to help me achieve the goal.  In my senior year, I cleared 13' 8" in the league meet, missing my goal by four measely inches.  But my Father telling me that he was proud of me meant more to me than any damned car ever could have.
But back to Thom.  He earned a football scholorship to Oregon State University, and one day while practicing in preparation for his first collegiate game, he was tackled and blew out his right knee.  After his surgery, he was unable to compete in sports again. 
The pain of his injury was treated with a vaiety of pain medications, and was the genesis of his battle with addiction that ultimately claimed his life.  He got involved in all of the recreational drugs of the day, and continued the abuse throughout his tortured life.  Thom was a gifted guitar player and played in a band that used to tour with the group "The Turtles".  He hung out with some pretty big names of the day as well.  He ultimately met the evilness of the drug we call "Heroin".  I never understood what "hero" had to do with heroin and I don't to this day.  That shit took my brother away and you bet I'm PISSED.  Time for a break....I'll be right back.........
I'm back.  Whew.....I remember in about 1987, I went to Thom's house and I found him strung out pretty badly.  He was delirious and hallucinating.  I got him to Stanford University Medical Center to try to get him some help.  From then on, he was in and out of treatment, relapsing and then recovering and repeating the cycle.  He was somewhat successful in the real estate business and he bought himself a beautiful Harley Davidson Limited Edition.  That was his reward for one year of being "clean".  
On July 3, 1993, I was in Lancaster, California, meeting my new in-laws; Barbara's family.  And the phone rang.  It was for me.  It was Tommy's friend Randy, calling to let me know that my brother had been killed in a crash on his Harley up in the mountains.  When we brought him home, and we brought his bike and saddlebags, I found a "rig" in his bag.  That fucking heroin had got back at him and the autopsy confirmed it.  My big brother; my hero was 46 years old.  And gone.  And I never really grieved for him until now. 
I want to thank all who read this for taking the time.  And I apologize for the vulgarity.  But if anything justifies vulgarity, heroin is it.  Love you guys, and Thom, I love you, my brother..................
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGHdUk8apmk&feature=related
I know your lifeOn earth was troubledAnd only you could know the painYou weren't afraid to face the devilYou were no stranger to the rainGo rest high on that mountainSon, you work on earth is doneGo to heaven a shoutin'Love for the Father and SonOh, how we cried the day you left usWe gathered round your grave to grieveI wish I could see the angels facesWhen they hear your sweet voice singGo rest high on that mountainSon, you work on earth is doneGo to heaven a shoutin'Love for the Father and Son
 

Replies

OnMyOwn2010
OnMyOwn2010

Tears...for you, for your brother, for myself & a younger sister...you have lived one of my nightmares...I have a younger sister that is addicted to crack & alcohol...clean & sober for a while then gets sucked right back into it...this has been going on for 20+ years...sometimes it\'s years between letters or phone calls, wondering, worrying, hoping, praying...wish I could give you a real hug right now, but my arms aren\'t that long...this will have to do...(((JOE)))... ~E~
deleted_user
deleted_user

You do not have to be old to have lost. BTW...This is the first song anyone ever posted that I know. Kaaren
deleted_user
deleted_user

Joe - Such a beautiful yet sad story of your brother\'s life and death. I love this song also. Mark was a musician - had been since the age of 8 and played with many bands. At his memorial service, 3 of his close friends who are also musicians played this song and sang it..............it was so beautiful and makes me cry. (OK - what doesn\'t make me cry nowadays !!)
Thanks for sharing this story - and the song. It is an awesome one.
Hugs to you,
Chris
deleted_user
deleted_user

I don\'t know what to say. Saying I am sorry seems so inadequate. Hugs.
doyew
doyew

Hoping that sharing this story of your brother\'s life and death brings you peace and comfort.
Blessings,
Doye3
deleted_user
deleted_user

Thank your for sharing the memories with all of us. I have a younger brother who too became a victim of drug use.....also a professional musician. He did not \"die\" but lives in an assisted care facility and always will. His whole life was destroyed by the bad choices he made.......but we are left to deal with \"what could have been\".......and in my case, always to wonder if there was a point when I could have helped change the outcome.

Thanks you too for sharing the beautiful song. I had never heard it before.
Peace to you today. Hugs, Dianne
deleted_user
deleted_user

I have never taken drug so feel cant really understand why people take it when my son became musician worried sick he take drugs he never did as far as I am aware ,know families where drugs cause whole family problems not just user ,I shall never fully understand but do grasp loss brother think you portrayed him with justice two sides hero and one who sunk in to drug despair feel you also made it clear how drugs took him
deleted_user
deleted_user

What a wonderful, touching, and sad story about your brother. You\'re right, the longer we live the more loss we experience unfortunately. Thank you for sharing. You are in my thoughts and prayers for comfort. Take care, Sandra
BotsBushBaby
BotsBushBaby

Thank you for sharing, Joe. Although sad, that was beautifully written. Gail
deleted_user
deleted_user

Thank you so much for still another enlightening look into the human heart, mind, and soul. You are such a great guide along that path. I understand when you say you never really grieved until now - understanding the magnitude of loss makes us appreciate the others we\'ve had.

Hugs, Gail
Joeinaz
Joeinaz

You guys are the best. I so appreciate the time you spend hearing me out. Expressing myself like this is like bleeding the poison inside of me out of my heart. And it cleanses my soul. And I love this magical place and the people that populate it.................Joe....:-)